Archive for the ‘AU Magazine’ Category

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It’s that time again…

October 8, 2010

Just a quick post to plug the new issue of AU. It’s out around the place now and we have published a list of stockists in Dublin here. Be quick though – it’s flying out. Or you can always subscribe.

On the cover, as you can see, we have Cee Lo Green while there are also big interviews with Ice Cube, Karl Hyde from Underworld and Randy Randall from No Age. We also have Kiran Acharya with his own inimitable look at the creationism debate, following on from Northern Ireland Culture Minister Nelson McCausland‘s provocative pronouncements.

Elsewhere in the mag, you’ll find a feature on fixed gear bikes (we ask, are they for dickheads?), as well as And So I Watch You From Afar, Les Savy Fav, Shit Robot, Yann Tiersen, Solar Bears, Isobel Anderson, Torche, Therapy?, Darkstar, Timber Timbre, Mount Kimbie, The Frames, William Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, HEALTH, and more.

Phew.

You can now read the mag online by clicking here.

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AU66: Devo feature

September 15, 2010

I’ve been meaning to post this up for a while – a feature that appeared in AU during the summer to coincide with Something For Everybody, Devo’s first album since 1990. It’s one of my favourite interviews, first of all because the idea of me speaking to someone of the status of Devo’s Jerry Casale still seems pretty bloody unlikely, but also because it was such a fun conversation.

It was a bit of a saga getting the interview organised – as is so often the case with big major label artists – so that was cause for apprehension in itself. Then there are the natural nerves of speaking to someone not far off ‘hero’ status in my book. And what would be be like? He is a man in his 60s after all – would be be a curmudgeon? Go through the motions? Deem my questions below him? Maybe he would be as completely nutso as his band’s persona. Or such an intellectual that I would struggle to converse on a similar level.

You see where I’m going with this. In fact, he was charming, self-deprecating and extremely affable. Most interesting, though, was the extent to which Devo’s off-the-wall schemes are the product of carefully planned marketing campaigns. I had supposed – naively, perhaps – that their ‘Devo Song Study’ was the band’s idea, perhaps a wry parody of audience-inclusive TV like American Idol and X Factor, where everyone who wants a say gets one. Casale was quite happy to set the record straight on that one…

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On ASIWYFA and the advantages of meeting your interviewees…

September 12, 2010


All photographs: ASIWYFA, photographed in Portrush for AU by Carrie Davenport

I had a few post-work pints with AU writers Francis Jones and John Freeman yesterday. Fra was the editor of the mag before me, and we’ve both been involved with it for about five years. His day job has changed but he still contributes regularly and is a good friend. John is from Manchester and found out about us through a mate of his who is obsessed with Duke Special – when we had Duke on the cover a couple of years ago, this guy got hold of a copy and showed it to John, who got in touch, pitched some work and soon became one of our main feature writers. However, he had never in his 40 years been to Northern Ireland so after interviewing Jeff Tweedy for our Wilco cover feature he took the opportunity to fly over for the band’s debut NI gig, at the Open House Festival. After innumberable phone calls and emails it was good to finally meet him.

Anyway, we were chatting about the mag and music writing in general, and got on to talk about the interviews we do. Being based in Belfast, most of our interviews are done on the phone – we are normally either previewing a gig to be played here, or the artist is promoting a new album. Either way, the interviewee is unlikely to be in Belfast. On certain occasions it does work out (sometimes we interview bands when they are here to play a gig, especially if they are about to release an album soon after) and of course we often interview bands from Northern Ireland.

Any music writer will tell you that a face-to-face interview is always preferable – there is only so much you can do with an interview based solely on words down a phone line. When you meet up with an interviewee, however, there is so much more to play with. Context, geography, even something as simple as facial expressions and body language make a huge difference.

With that in mind, and because I haven’t posted it up here yet, here’s an interview I did with And So I Watch You From Afar in March last year, just before their debut album came out. The photographer Carrie and I went to their own patch – Portrush – for the day and chatted to them in Barry’s Amusements, the Harbour Bar and on the beach. It was a fun day. Read the rest of this entry ?

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New AU out nai!

September 3, 2010

As you see above, the new issue is out throughout Belfast. The list is:

Katy Daly’s, Lavery’s, QUBSU, Maggie May’s, Clement’s (city centre), Auntie Annie’s, Filthy McNasty’s, White’s Tavern, Clockwork Orange, Best Vintage, Forbidden Planet, Urban Outfitters, HMV (city centre), Viva Retro, Duke of York, Dark Horse, Black Box, John Hewitt, Music Matters and the Empire.

Subscribers’ copies are out and everyone else will be stocked next week. So there. The cover is up there *points* and includes lots of good stuff, as you would (hopefully) imagine. I didn’t actually write much of it this month (delegation ftw) but I did review albums by !!! and Adebisi Shank, as well as write the unsigned section (feat. The Alice Kona Band, Isobel Anderson and We Are Losers. And the odd other bit and piece.

I’m going to take this opportunity to plug the fantastic Ms Anderson here, actually. Review below, and Bandcamp link before that. Listen and order the CD. Go on.

ISOBEL ANDERSON
COLD WATER SONGS

A native of Brighton but now living in Belfast, 26-year-old Isobel Anderson is a talent that deserves greater recognition, and given a bit of luck this might be the release to do it. Over eight songs, she lays bare her soul, accompanying her utterly captivating voice and evocative lyrics with beautifully played guitar and autoharp. Folk it may be, but this is not mere background music – there’s an almost carnal intensity to songs like ‘Morveren’s Lullaby and ‘Love Note’, as well as an ever-present hint of sonic adventure. Subtle little effects drift into the mix, vocals and instruments are layered and layered again, and the songwriting is superb throughout. Very highly recommended.

WWW.MYSPACE.COM/ISOBELANDERSON

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Hello again…

August 31, 2010

Ah, I knew that would happen. A couple of months of relatively busy activity on my shiny new blog and then… silence. Pathetic. Anyway, I’ve been thinking I should blog again and I have good reason for it.

First of all, to tell you that the new issue of AU will be out at the weekend. It’s our first since the Wilco issue and our summer break and it’s full of all the usual good stuff plus a few new ideas and some new writers as well. I’ll blog again when it’s out (promise). In the meantime, you can read the last five issues on whatever you are using to read this by clicking here.

Secondly, I was sent this music video today and I feel compelled to share it. The act is Tropics (pictured above), a new signing to Planet Mu Records, who seem to be on a bit of a roll at the minute. The last new act I heard from them was Solar Bears, a Dublin duo whose debut album She Was Coloured In is fantastic in a Boards of Canada-go-Krautrock kind of way. Tropics operates in a similar kind of headspace – all dreamy and woozy, but rather than Kraut it’s got more of a heady disco feel to it, along the lines of Blondes and Teengirl Fantasy.

The video below is of ‘Soft Vision’, from an upcoming EP of the same name. It also works as 90s nostalgia, because it reminds me of a Timotei ad. Either way, it’s a winner.

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James Murphy interview (October 2007)

April 5, 2010

The main reason this blog has been so quiet of late is that I’ve been pretty heavily consumed with work for AU. The new issue of the mag (the second this year) goes to print on Wednesday and it’s been hectic times with an office move and the fact that I didn’t start full-time until last Monday, leaving Jonny and Kim with a lot of slack to pick up on their own.

However, we’ve pretty much got there and it’ll feel great to get the mag out (hopefully at the weekend) and get cracking on the next one – the first I’ll be working on full-time. Yowza.

As a wee preview of the next issue, then (nudge nudge, wink wink), here’s an old interview with James Murphy that I did in the autumn of 2007. I’ve been a massive LCD fan since I heard Losing My Edge and Beat Connection back in about 2002, so it was pretty exciting to get the chance to speak to him, and he didn’t disappoint. Affable and chatty to a fault. Total man-crush material.

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AU62: Snow Patrol album review

April 4, 2010

Yeah, I don’t like them much these days…

SNOW PATROL
UP TO NOW
FICTION

Speaking to Gary Lightbody for this issue’s cover feature, it’s striking just how sure he is that Snow Patrol are getting better and better all the time. It just isn’t true. If anything, it’s been downhill ever since Final Straw, and this compilation is aural proof. Take the new single ‘Just Say Yes’, one of three brand new songs among the 27 other singles, album tracks and rarities jumbled up for your delectation. Put simply, the band sound like a lobotomised The Bravery. It’s limp, phoned-in rubbish and the attempt to whack a load of synths onto it in the apparent belief that it makes them sound relevant and edgy is outright laughable.

Then consider the band’s recent singles – ‘Crack The Shutters’, ‘The Planets Bend Between Us’, ‘Take Back The City’ (okay, kudos for managing to fit in two different choruses on that one). Can anyone honestly, with a straight face, claim that these songs, slick as they are, hold a candle to the classic ‘Starfighter Pilot’ (a sister song to Ash’s ‘Angel Interceptor’ and a close cousin of ‘Teenage Kicks’), ‘Ask Me How I Am’, or ‘On/Off’? And that’s just the early tracks that made it onto this compilation – whither ‘One Night Is Not Enough’, ‘Wow’ and the sumptuous ‘If I’d Found The Right Words To Say’?

And before you start moaning, this isn’t about snobbery or jealousy. The career-making Final Straw deserved its success, and it’s represented by three very good songs in ‘Spitting Games’, ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Run’ (two versions). But, as much as Lightbody denies it (and he does), you can’t shake the notion that the runaway success of ‘Run’ has mapped out the rest of the band’s career for them. Suddenly, Lightbody finds himself capable of writing glossy, radio-friendly anthems, and the crunchy rockers and scratchy indie-pop of old – full as they are of wit, charm, subtlety, heart and soul, can get stuffed. Hence, the execrable ‘Chasing Cars’.

Hearing all of this gloop mixed in among the best of their work makes for an entirely dispiriting experience, and that’s before you even consider all the great songs that have had to make way for the likes of ‘Hands Open’ (in which it sounds like they literally can’t wait to wheel out the chorus) and ‘Signal Fire’. Up To Now can only be recommended as an entry point for people that think the band formed in 2004. But it’s best avoided, really. Chris Jones

4/10

DOWNLOAD: ‘SET THE FIRE TO THE THIRD BAR’ (AS PROOF OF A GOOD LATTER-DAY SONG), WHEN IT’S ALL OVER WE STILL HAVE TO CLEAR UP.
FOR FANS OF: COLDPLAY, KEANE, MAROON FUCKING 5.

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